Friday, July 22, 2011

Nearly over--

I’m going to stop posting here. I’ll abandon a few part-written posts, finish one more–which may take a while–and tidy-up the sidebar. Keep the Development project FAQs page updated now and then. And that’s it.

Lately I’ve struggled to manage everything I love and everything I need to do. I’ve been making too many errors during simple processes, making foolish assumptions, asking unnecessary and inappropriate questions. (Once, I believed that no question was unnecessary or inappropriate, but I've changed.) My dysnumeracy bites in winter, too. Tax return. This year, the necessary analysis for Grow Wellington’s wonderful Activate course, almost done. AND the New Zealand International Film Festival (#nzff) gender stats. And GUESS WHAT? This year, the #nzff Wellington catalogue has a Genre Guide which includes a Women Make Features sections, so I could cross-check my counting. (Women wrote and directed 12.5% of the features selected, down from 13% last year.) I’ve noticed that the #nzff films I most want to see are written and directed by men: Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte, Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s A Cat in Paris, Nuri Bilge Cylan’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. That tells me something about where I’m at. And I’m tutoring on a women in film course, where I have to read unfamiliar and challenging material. That uses up a high proportion of my limited left-brain capacity.

Most of all I’m desperate to write scripts and work with a camera again, inspired by some of the film course reading. Desperate to give the right side of my brain a work-out.

Still there on the Development FB page and as devt on Twitter. Micro-blogging, which I sometimes use as a kind of book/film/idea-marking, will do, for a while at least.

There’s just two things left to include. First, a useful reminder from producer Ted Hope, in a post entitled It’s NOT About Art: The Film Industry Is About People Keeping Their Jobs. He asks:
Can we change our thinking to aspire towards great work above all else, even at the risk of losing our precious job? ...What can we do to help both the creators and the audience demand originality and ambition from the entertainment industry? It’s both a macro and a micro issue, political and personal: I know I have a problem meeting people that are considerably different than me, yet still hold common interests and principles. How do we break out of our small social & professional circles? Isn’t that what the promise of the internet was, and still is? It can be done. I need to work harder. Do you? 
I'm not in the film industry Ted Hope describes but I like his challenge, because it is partly about embracing difference and the rich potential of the internet.

And finally, Erica Jong. I fell over her Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir at the library a while back. Her definition of feminism made me think, and her exploration of an issue that connects to Ted Hope's ideas–why women hurt other women–made me think (and feel), too. I was saving these for a post about women working together. First, the feminism definition:
I define a feminist as a self-empowering woman who wishes the same for her sisters. I do not think the term implies a certain sexual orientation, a certain style of dress, or membership in a certain political party. A feminist is merely a woman who refuses to accept the notion that women’s power must come through men.
And here's her view on women’s ill-will towards other women, which I’ve experienced as both donor and receiver:
Why are women so ungenerous to other women? Is it because we have been tokens for so long? Or is there a deeper animosity we owe it to ourselves to explore? ...Women have been abused for centuries, so it should surprise no one that we are good at abusing each other. Until we learn to stop doing that, we cannot make our revolution stick. Many women are damaged in childhood, unprotected, unrespected, and treated with dishonesty. Is it any wonder that we build up vast defences against other women, since the perpetrators of childhood abuse have been so often women? Is it any wonder that we return intimidation with intimidation, or that we reserve our greatest fury for others who remind us of our own weaknesses–namely other women?
This is a grim note at the end of the 200,000 or so words I’ve written here during the last two years and eight months, but it describes one aspect of what I want to explore now, elsewhere. Which I couldn’t and wouldn’t have considered writing about without the generosity of all of you who’ve shared information with me in interviews and other ways, and who've read bits of what I’ve written and been in touch about them–in the comments, by email, on the phone, in person. Thank you. Very much.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Merata Mita's Mana Waka, coming to the NZFF.


Merata Mita's Mana Waka (1937-40/1990) will be a high point of the New Zealand International Film Festival this year. In 1937, the Waikato leader Te Puea Herangi engaged cameraman RGH Manley to record the building of two waka taua (canoes), for the 1940 Waitangi centennial commemorations. Manley's footage was not printed. In 1983 Te Arikinui Dame Atairangikahu gave Nga Kaitiaki o Nga Taonga/The New Zealand Film Archive (NZFA) permission to repair and restore the nitrate negatives. Merata Mita (1942-2010) was appointed to construct a new film, and she, editor Annie Collins and NZFA founder and director the late Jonathan Dennis moved to Turangawaewae Marae to edit it. The festival will show a new print, courtesy of the Te Puea Foundation, and made possible through the Saving Frames Project, a partnership between the NZFA, Park Road Post Production and the Government of New Zealand.

There's no trailer for Mana Waka as far as I know. But this morning, as I looked for one, I found a 1997 interview with Merata Mita, made by Karin Williams for Pacific Perspectives on Hawai'i Public Television, and started viewing at Part 3 of three equally rich parts. I wept. Laughed. And was inspired. Here are the clips, with Merata talking about the importance of knowing who you are, about teaching film and demystifying technology, about her experiences of acting, about her journey to becoming a director, about stereotypes, about beleaguered women on Hollywood sets and her experiences there (she didn't want to be a Hollywood director; among other things "I just don't have the testosterone"), about colonisation, and being an activist, about her favorite of all her films. In these clips, Merata's heart, her clarity and courage, remind me all over again of how much the world's lost because of her early death. And made me long for a full retrospective of her work.

Mana Waka on a big screen in a crowded cinema will be very special. It's the first film on my festival list.







More about Mana Waka from 1989, via Peter Calder at the New Zealand Herald.

More about Merata Mita here (a duet from Cushla Parekowhai and me).